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How threats and violence against elected officials have worsened since the introduction of the health pass

“You are going to die. Stabbing, beheading, rocket launcher, gun, bomb, no matter how we kill you, you will soon understand that our freedom must not be touched.” Some 52 elected officials, including LREM MP for Haute-Saône Barbara Bessot-Ballot, who testified on France 3 Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, found this death threat in their mailbox at the end of December 2021. For the LREM MP For Manche Bertrand Sorre , who also received this message, there is no doubt: “These are threats linked to the health measures recently adopted,” the parliamentarian assures franceinfo.

“I have a war arsenal at home and you will be a direct target, no matter where you are…” “One day you will no longer be a deputy, no more protection, that is where we will attack, you or your family.” , your children, at a time when you don’t expect it…” “I’m going to put your ball on you after demolishing your knees so you know what evil is…” Threatening messages, received by deputies and transmitted to the police, which franceinfo could consult, they are chilling.

The violence of words, but also of actions. The LREM deputy for Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Stéphane Claireaux, was attacked in his home on January 9 during a demonstration against the health pass. “I was waiting for the protesters so I could argue with them, the elected official said. There was a car that was loaded with seaweed, seaweed, and people started throwing me. It looked like stoning.” This aggression shook the political class. On a trip to Nice, Emmanuel Macron lamented on Monday “the intensification of violence” against elected officials. In an increasingly tense political context, in particular due to the ongoing debates in Parliament on the transformation of the health pass into a vaccination pass, the authorities are taking the threat very seriously.

“Elected officials have always been threatened, but not in such proportions,” says franceinfo Sonia Fibleuil, spokeswoman for the national police. This type of action is at the initiative of “radical activists” the anti-step movement, she explains. In the first eleven months of 2021, violence against elected officials increased by 47%, according to data from the Ministry of the Interior. In total, 162 parliamentarians and 605 mayors or deputies were victims of deliberate attacks on physical integrity, Place Beauvau confirms to franceinfo. Elected officials have filed more than 300 complaints in the last six months and, during the same period, around fifteen arrests have taken place, Gérald Darmanin announced on RTL on Tuesday. Figures also confirmed to franceinfo by the Ministry of the Interior. According to data from the National Police, more than half of these threats are made through the Internet.

“An increase in the number of threats occurred as early as July 2021, which corresponds to the implementation period of the health pass. This was relaunched in December with the sending of death threats against deputies”.

Sonia Fibleuil, spokesperson for the national police

in franceinfo

As of July 2021, the Paris prosecutor’s office opened an extensive investigation into these threats against personalities with a public mandate, following a report by the president of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand, in application of article 40. The Criminal Procedure Code requires any authority that has knowledge of a crime or fails to report it to the courts. At the beginning of January, almost six months after its opening, the investigation concerns 250 facts against 150 people, mostly deputies, the Paris prosecutor’s office confirms to franceinfo.

However, the Paris prosecutor’s office does not deal with all cases. In Le Havre (Seine-Maritime), the criminal court sentenced a man to four months in prison on January 5 for having called the Internet to kill deputies. “I want to kill a deputy. I want to see blood…” : Behind these explicit threats, a 19-year-old student who frequents “dark web” forums. the message had been published the day before the debate on the passage of the vaccine. During his trial, the young man denied any politicization, recounts the assistant prosecutor from Le Havre to franceinfo.

“It is necessary to take energetic measures, given the multiplication of these cases.”

Cyrille Fournier, Deputy Prosecutor of Le Havre

in franceinfo

Intelligence services also detect some calls to violent action on the forums. The judicial police investigators then rely on the errors made by Internet users hidden behind pseudonyms and on the cooperation of the American digital giants to obtain information that allows the suspects to be identified, the national police specifies on franceinfo. The identification of the student tried in Le Havre could be carried out after a report on the Pharos platform, despite the presence of a VPN (a virtual private network).

IIt remains difficult to draw a composite portrait of these “radicalized” anti-passes at the origin of the threats. “This is a broad movement that manages to add, around anger, very different profiles,” says Sonia Fibleuil.They come both from the pro-Raoult, from the conspiratorial extreme right, from the ‘yellow vests’ and from the extreme left“, specifies a police source to franceinfo.

“Increasingly we find ourselves facing hybrid profiles due to the strong polarization of society.”

Sonia Fibleuil, spokesperson for the national police

in franceinfo

According to researcher Philippe Breton, doctor of information and communication sciences and professor emeritus at the University of Strasbourg, “the anti-vaccine movement itself is a very heterogeneous movement.” But the antipass and the antivaccines share a position of “secession”, which generates “violent radicalism”. “Gradually the barriers that protect us from civil violence are being lifted”, with this fringe so radicalconvinced that we want to exclude him from society.

“When you separate yourself from society, there is a process of dehumanization of the other.”

Philippe Breton, doctor of information and communication sciences

in franceinfo

On the side of the targets of the anti-passage threats, we find a rejection “to those who know”. “Their target is the elite category, according to the news we attack the doctors first, then the deputies. For them it is the same figure”, adds the researcher. François Crémieux, the new director of the AP-HM in Marseille, was the target of threatening labels in the house of a namesake in early September 2021. He filed a complaint for “public insults towards a civil servant” and “threat of crime or offence.” against people or property against a public service official”. The director of the institution, who tries to raise awareness on the topic of vaccination on a daily basis, tells franceinfo that he has taken these threats seriously. “I think they are serious events, like when it happens to caregivers or parliamentarians”.

Deputy Bertrand Sorre Meanwhile, he filed a complaint against X at the end of December 2021 for “death threat”. The chosen one faces the difficulty of identifying the authors of the threats, which often happens when the latter intervene online. The parliamentarian sees in the phenomenon a danger to democracy. “They seek to install some scary music to change the votes, to create tension, denounces the elected official. With these threats, these anti-passes try to instill the idea that we are going to be attacked if we vote for this or that health measure .

Since the end of November, a representative of the National Assembly is responsible for supporting elected officials in their proceedings and systematic reporting is encouraged. “Faced with the proliferation of threats and violence against deputies, the Assembly will be a civil party alongside them,” Richard Ferrand (LREM) announced in Le Monde on Wednesday. The President of the National Assembly met the day before with the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, and the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin. The creations of a specific review of the attentions to them and of a “bicameral cell” (Assemblée et Sénat) de suivi de la situation pour “avoir un tableau de bord commun” ont été discutées, recount the president of the Assemblée dans The world.

To deal with these threats, the Ministry of the Interior confirms to franceinfo the implementation of a series of measures. Among them, the registration of the addresses of the offices and addresses of the elected officials in the Intervention and Protection file (SIP), at the request of the elected officials. On December 29, 2021, Gérald Darmanin had already asked the prefects to increase surveillance of these places. Elected officials will receive more support in filing complaints and raising awareness of conflict management and the reestablishment of dialogue with the Raid negotiators is underway, details the spokesman for the national police on franceinfo.

Beyond the security measures, the researcher Philippe Breton sees in this climate of animosity the need to maintain democratic debate. “Secession is first and foremost a break in dialogue.”

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